I was introduced to Fr. Timothy Hirten seven weeks ahead of his induction into the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s “Baron Hall of Fame.” I first met him via a press release from the Archdiocese for the Military Services. Then again through archived articles from Catholic and secular sources.

He’d be a good guy to know in person.

The political science major and basketball star of the ’70s went on to play for several teams in several countries — including the Washington Generals who are known for playing against the Harlem Globetrotters. Fr. Hirten’s one season with a pro league in Manila helped sell out every game in a 19,000-seat arena, according to an ArchMil press release.

Father Timothy J. Hirten, Ch, Maj, USAF, in basketball team photo with the Barons of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, 1975. (photo courtesy of Archdiocese for the Military Services)
Fr. Timothy J. Hirten, Ch, Maj, USAF, in basketball team photo (center) with the Barons of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, 1975. (photo courtesy of Archdiocese for the Military Services)

“I still play hoops and run with my troops,” Fr. Hirten said in the release, reporting that he recently scored 92 percent on his annual military fitness test.

He was the only athlete in Franciscan University of Steubenville history to play four different varsity sports and bore the title of captain for the Baron’s basketball and tennis teams. He was College Man of the Year in 1975.

Fr. Hirten has spent the last 21 years as a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn. He’s also a military chaplain who served two deployments to Iraq. Fr. Hirten continues to be of service to both his 88-year-old wheelchair-bound mother and the large Catholic community on base at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Becoming a Catholic chaplain

Fr. Hirten, an Air Force chaplain, considers it a privilege to serve those who serve. “I love being a military chaplain,” he said. “I thank God on my knees every day for the opportunity to serve our nation.”

The priest seemingly embraces media opportunities. Maybe he’s used to it from his basketball days. Here are some of his headlines over the years:

Fr. Hirten is among five baron Hall of Fame inductees this year. They include three other athletes and a coach. The induction ceremony is Aug. 31.

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